Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Clare Rita McInerney is calling for urgent action to ensure that the ShannonDoc service can operate at full capacity.

The service in Milltown didn’t operate at the weekend – the second time it has been closed in the last month, and locals are worried that this pattern could be repeated, leading ultimately to the closure of the service.

Ms McInerney explained, “People across Clare rely on this out of hours service, and ShannonDoc can be the first emergency contact for people needing medical attention. People living in rural parts of the country are particularly dependent on the service, and the threatened cuts are creating real fear in these communities.

“Health services in Clare are already under huge pressure, making the ShannonDoc model even more important. One of main issues with the system is a shortage of available doctors – which has been attributed to issues with work permits for non-EU doctors. Traditionally, the unsociable shifts were taken on by doctors from places like Australia and South Africa, who were in Ireland gaining experience. However, the current work permit scheme for doctors from outside the EU, is leading to major delays.

“All measures must be explored to ensure that the ShannonDoc service is maintained. Cuts simply cannot be countenanced, and I am asking the HSE, the Minister and the relevant authorities to examine what measures can be taken to ensure that doctors can be recruited in a timely manner”, concluded Ms. McInerney.